How the State Department intimidates its own employees

A recent post by Peter Van Buren on how he has been harassed
for posting a link from his personal blog to a Wikileaks site on the web should
alarm everyone.  There are still, and
always will be, ways of intimidating individuals without breaking the law, and
the treatment of this State Department official is frightening.  This kind of behavior, I can believe, might
have taken place during the George W Bush administration when the whole country
was punchy about every twitch that could be regarded as a threat to the
country.  But, no, this took place only
recently, by officials in the Obama administration, which we had all hoped
would avoid such knee-jerk reactions.  Consider
the following:
Van Buren was told that by posting a link to a WikiLeaks document already available
elsewhere on the Web he had essentially disclosed “classified material.”
This
was reason to be formally asked if he had “donated any money … to a forward
military base in Iraq.”
Had he “’transferred’
classified information” in any other way?
Mr
Van Buren assumed that there was a subtext to this interrogation:  Someone objected to what he had to say in a
forthcoming book, We Meant Well:
How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
.  Whatever the reason it was un-American.
Van Buren is a State Department employee with 23 years of
experience, and in this interview he was told that for the act of simply
linking to another website he could lose his security clearance, which for him
would of course mean the termination of a career.  The agents questioning him even stated that he
was subject to criminal prosecution.  Indeed
by merely revealing that he was being thus interrogated he could be charged
with “interfering with a Government investigation.” A report of the interrogation on his blog would be considered “Law Enforcement Sensitive”.  
Hmm.  This is a free society, right?  Not Syria,
not Saudi Arabia, not Bahrain, not Iran
or North Korea.  We think an open society is a good thing.  We like the idea of a society in which people
are free to use the internet.  It’s OK even to link to other sites the
web — because of course they are  already there.